by Maya White-Lurie

A forest blooms
at the center of existence
glistening with this morning’s rain,
lush with life,
gold and crimson
emerald and copper,
richer than any gems.

Beings with full bellies,
women beside
women beside men
beside men,
lounge in the grass
that caresses their skin,
whispering tunes nearly forgotten,
growing, entwining with their hair.

Their grinning faces greet
all visitors before they wander on.

Here I can dance to the jangle
of the falling stars
rather than the jingle
of coins in my pocket,
forever celebrating
reason over fear
and love over loathing.

Suddenly the ground gives way,
quicksand beneath my feet
I yell for help,
and dig my fingers into the dirt
desperate for a hold.

The blissful beings run to help
but their hands fall short.

I wake with a start
on a bare, bleeding mattress
in my dingy
one room apartment,
with cigarette burns on all four walls,
grime ground into the age-old carpet,
and traffic screaming outside,
because a woman cries out
for mercy
in the room above mine.

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